The Absentee Formal Education in Prison Guard Hiring Traditions: Extrapolating Pareto Distance to Inform Personnel Optimality for Corrections Agencies

Robb Elton


The educated corrections officer/guard is sufficiently schooled in the relevant social science area and possesses sufficient theoretical knowledge such that the quality of work, purpose, and goals of incarceration could be met. Thus, the desire to bring professionalism into the field of corrections has been recognized for many decades, particularly after the Attica tragedy of 1971. However, in pursuit of adequate staffing levels many factors (geography, for example) diminish the ability of prisons and correctional facilities to obtain formally educated employees. This mixed-methods research aimed to first identify prison policies through random selection of state corrections agencies in the United States (n=20) that may allow certain years of service as a substitute for a bachelor’s degree in social sciences at hire. Secondly, there was a need to define how to calculate Pareto Distance (PD) as an indicator of incongruous education standards as to prison guards, and third, substantiate recommendations for benchmark employment to at least 1-in-5 guards with a baccalaureate. Unfortunately, the results were compelling. The majority of states permit teenagers to apply to work as prison guards. The incarceration rate is closely tied to the education level throughout the state. The Pareto Distance, however, represents a prospective benchmark for optimality where insufficient numbers of educated personnel are available to effectively operate a prison.

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Journal of Management and Strategy
ISSN 1923-3965 (Print)   ISSN 1923-3973 (Online)


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